Prototyping your web designs can come in many different forms, from sketches on a napkin or in a notebook, wireframes, or high-fidelity mock-ups. No matter what way your prototyping takes shape, it is critical that the prototyping process is treated as an important part of your workflow.


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There are quite a few reasons prototyping is integral to the web design process, but the main point is that they can save you extra effort you might otherwise use on creating a design that may not work. This is because prototypes take relatively little time to create, and they can help you identify issues in your design early on. Instead of spending hours laying out a page and tweaking it to find what works best, you can start crafting your design with a solid idea what you want, if you’ve spent the time beforehand to plan it out.

Prototypes also allow you to create variations on designs and compare them much more easily. Instead of coding different designs and layouts to compare. Using sketches or high-fidelity mock-ups, you can easily put the different iterations side-by-side. This means no switching between tabs and saved layouts and designs.

Jacob Gube points out more reasons prototyping is a must for any designer’s work process. Most importantly, putting your ideas on paper before investing time and energy allows you to cut any bad ideas at the beginning of the process. It also makes it easier to communicate your ideas to clients or employers who may need to approve a design.

Pretty much anything connected to the internet is in a constant state of flux and evolution. Web design is certainly not exempt from this. That’s why it is important for every working designer to stay in touch with what is current, but for someone who may have graduated from school five, ten, or even more years ago, it is easy to not realize how out of touch you really have become by sticking to what you know.

Brian Morris, writing on Creative Overflow, realizes how easy it is to get disconnected from current web design if you aren’t making a point to stay up to date. But he also points out seven easy ways to make yourself a good current designer again.

Getting back in touch with what is happening is as easy as taking a class at a community college. I’m sure you don’t need a design 101 class, but just looking at a class catalog  you can identify areas where they may be teaching programs, skills, or ideas that weren’t en vogue or even created when you were in school.

The largest reason there isn’t an excuse for being behind the times is the community of web designers just spewing out tutorials, resources, and helpful articles available for free. Just browse design blogs until you find something you don’t know how to do, then follow the tutorial while you watch it. Just viewing a movie of someone telling you how to do something won’t help you learn it very well.

Honestly, most of Morris’ suggestions are things any good designer should be doing to start with. Constantly viewing colleagues and peers’ work helps jump start the creative process, and you can see ideas and skills you might not know, just like entering contests keeps you pushing to make the best design possible. What the suggestions do show though is the one thing you can’t do in web design: become complacent.

Getting your posts out to the masses is one of the hardest parts of writing online. Just publishing them isn’t even close to enough. The good news is, it has never been easier to share on the internet thanks to socia media.

Promoting your content is absolutely a part of getting it in front of other people, and you have to do the promoting yourself. The easiest way to think about it is to ask yourself “why should anyone care about my content, if I don’t care enough to promote it?”

There is no shame in pushing your content in front of the eyes of others. Of course, there is a line where pushing it onto others can be a turn off, but its way better than toiling in obscurity.

Jordan Kasteler, columnist from Search Engine Land, has nine different methods he uses to promote his content online. It may seem weird to put your work out there in front of others at first, but its the only way to get your content out there. In a world where content marketing is a huge part of SEO, its important to get people sharing your work.

Google AdWords allows you to automate a great deal of your campaign management. One particularly helpful aspect to automate is keyword bidding. Joel Chudleigh has a great rundown at Business2Community of how to set rules in AdWords to ideally bid for and pause keywords, but I’ll give you a quick summary.

When setting your rules, simply consider what an optimal keyword performance for your campaign is. A keyword that gains clicks but no conversions would likely need to be paused, so set a rule that does so after a certain number of clicks without conversions.

What’s an acceptable average cost per conversion? Set up a rule that bids up any keyword that exceeds that average. You can also bid down keywords that are out of your price range and in less than optimal position.

I think the key here is to put some real thought into setting your rules and make sure to keep checking on the campaign’s progress, even after automation.

With all of the changes Google made in the past year, it is easy to get mixed up as to what changes affected what areas of a site’s SEO information, and what was penalized by which algorithm updates. Combine that with a disavow links tool which most don’t seem to understand, and it is a wonder anyone can keep up with Google’s updates.

Pratik Dholakiya, writer for Search Engine Journal, recognized how confusing this all must be, and sought to explain which types of updates affected what, as well as all of the misconceptions surrounding these updates. He breaks them down into three basic types of updates, and each focused on different aspects of SEO.

EMD Algorithm Update – The September update targeted sites with exact match domains (EMDs), or sites named after keywords instead of brands. This change didn’t so much penalize most affected as it removed a special boost they were receiving due to the name of the website.

The only people really penalized by the update were those who had over-optimized their site around the keyword. There is also a misconception the EMD updates were Panda or Penguin related, but Matt Cutts has put that idea to rest.


Panda Updates – The main area the Panda updates looked at was your on-site content. Google was trying to weed out low-quality or duplicate content, and they’ve been churning out constant new versions of Panda all year.

Penguin Updates – Despite the close association with Panda, Google’s Penguin updates are actually their own beast, formerly known as the webspam algorithm update. They are targeting all of the spammy sites out there, and unless you’re a spammer, the only penalties you may have seen from these updates were from links.

If you have seen any penalties from these updates, Dholakiya explains how to help fix the problems. The Disavow Links tool can help with that, especially if you’ve seen penalties from the Penguin updates, but it isn’t a magic solution.

Though it isn’t a groundbreaking update, Facebook has made their ad tool a little more seamless by allowing users to create a new post without leaving the ad center.

This isn’t a development that will improve your ad performance or get you a bigger audience, but it might make your life just a little easier. Head over to Inside Facebook for Brittany Darwell’s article on the details.

I’ve explained what responsive design is fairly exhaustively. We all know its benefits  and at this point it is one of the biggest buzzwords in web design around. But, with any hugely popular web design method, a fair amount of misunderstandings came with the rise in popularity.

Many people have read about what responsive design is, and they understand that information fairly well, but what most people don’t understand is what responsive design is not. Jeff Orlor helps clarify what responsive design is and isn’t, and by pointing out what responsive design can’t do, it is a lot easier to understand exactly what the method is as a whole.

One of the biggest misunderstandings is the idea that responsive design provides the exact same experience on every screen. This isn’t possible, and if it was, you wouldn’t like it because all text and images would be absolutely tiny. If you’ve ever come across an un-optimized page which you’ve had to pinch and pull at to see anything, you have an idea what it would be like if a page looked the exact same on every device.

Instead, responsive design squeezes the content from a big screen into a smartphone at the expense of some content – namely images and graphics. Responsive design doesn’t recreate the site exactly, but tries to replicate the experience in the best way possible.

It is also widely believed that responsive design is a huge time saver, because designers don’t have to design a page over and over for different devices. This means, yes, designers may save time in the actual designing stage, but responsive design isn’t a miracle time saver. Testing is still required for every device to make sure everything is working properly. That testing takes time.

Responsive design is going to stay around, as people show they prefer to get their news and other text based content from websites rather than apps. It has amazing benefits which most will appreciate, but, like every method, it has its limits.


There’s been an interesting development with Google’s AdWords Express, which is marketed as a headache-free alternative for small businesses. Recently, Google announced that you could use the ads Google sets up for you with your budget in AdWords Express to drive users to your Google+ page. However, Google+ itself is an ad-free zone and you are unable to even set parameters so only Google+ users will be shown the ads.

For small businesses with no website, this could still be a valuable tool to create some sort of web presence. Google had been offering AdWords Express users with no site of their own the ability to create a free site, but with the included option of using a company’s Google+ page, that may be a thing of the past.

However, there are also some obvious glitches in this AdWords Express, Google+ relationship. For one, Google is essentially allocating your AdWords budget to promote Google+. Read more about the sketchy side of this deal in Greg Finn’s article at Marketing Land.

Photoshop is the program for graphic design. At this point, that is considered more of a fact than an opinion. It is the standard which just about everyone that can afford it uses. It might not actually be the best for web design anymore, however.

Fireworks, originally made by Macromedia, is another Adobe product, which Harish Chouhan believes makes more sense for web design, especially with its recent integration with other creative suite software.

So why is it better? First off, it allows for much faster and easier prototyping and sketching. You don’t have to constantly worry about layers because Fireworks automatically makes each element an individual object to be edited, scaled, etc.

Fireworks also uses PNG as it’s native file type, which makes Fireworks files much more sharable than Photoshop documentaries. PNG, or Portable Network Graphics, is a patent free file format which allows for saving of multiple Meta data.

Chouhan has even more reasons you might consider switching to Fireworks. It can do almost anything Photoshop can, but it will save you time and frustration.

SEO as a whole can be split into two different categories: on-page and off-page optimization techniques. On-page optimization is focused on everything you can do to boost your rankings directly on your webpage. Off-page SEO concerns aspects that function elsewhere, like backlink management.

Some might argue that on-page optimization has been weakened by Google updates that have sought to weed out pages using methods like keyword stuffing. While this is kind of true, it does not fully discredit on-page methods.

You can still take advantage of proper keyword usage, titles, and URL management, but as Matt Cutts puts it, “there’s diminishing returns.” Christian Arno from Search Engine Journal explains what still works in on-page optimization, and while some of the old techniques have been cut down, the most effective techniques are still tried and true.